Do you know the difference between successful freelancers and insanely successful freelancers? Usually, it’s not their technical skills, it’s their customer support!
Today, I will show you how you can provide great customer support and find a lot of clients along the way. And it won’t even take much time. And it’s actually fun. Let’s begin.
Providing customer service through social media is helping the big companies make millions of dollars. Corporate businesses have been using social media – twitter in particular – as a tool to provide customer care for years.
Studies have proven that social media (with twitter in the lead) is serving as the most important tool for providing social customer care because it works as a marketing tool as well.
An official twitter Survey proved that the companies which use twitter for providing customer support do better business than their competitors.
I can go on explaining that twitter helps corporates humanize their businesses and that’s why it helps them make more money… but that’s not our point.
Our question is that whether twitter, and social media in general, can be useful for freelancers and small businesses? YES INDEED.
Not only that freelancers can, major freelance marketplaces such as Upwork, have already created freelancers’ guidelines for social customer care. We absolutely need to learn this thing quickly because this can be the decisive factor in our success in 2016. And the good thing is that it’s not something difficult to learn. In fact, we don’t need to learn any tool or device because all we need is twitter. We only have to learn the methodology of social customer care, not the technical aspects.
We are will use twitter because it is the most potent tool when it comes to providing assistance, capturing customers, spying on competitors and to do lots of other things.
Now, you must be wondering that you can do all those activities with Facebook and other social media networks as well, why are we focusing on twitter only? There are two reasons for that. First one is that twitter is the most evolved and popular tool when it comes to social customer care, and second point is that if you learn twitter, you learn all social media because the methodology of social customer care stays the same across platforms.
So, this article is not purely about twitter but using all social media even though we’ll be taking examples from twitter only.
Twitter as a Social Customer Care Tool
We discussed the correct ways to use social media for designers in an earlier article. We covered many aspects over there including social media ethics, the social media networks exclusively made for designers, practices for becoming popular on social media and some other things. Since it covered so many things, it only scratched the surface on the most part, today we are digging deep on how we can use twitter (and other social media networks) to gain more clients and retain the ones that we already have. But before we do that, let’s find out the need of social customer care.
Customers are Already on Twitter
Wall Street Journal found out that social media is the most popular internet activity among Americans. Emailing, browsing, learning from wikipedia, reading books… Nothing is given as much time as social media.
Twitter is The Most Mobile Friendly
Comcore studied that in 2014, 60% of users were using mobile devices for internet consumption. In another study, we learn that nearly 80% of traffic on social media networks come from mobile devices. And this where twitter becomes critical because it is the most mobile friendly network because it’s layout is extremely simple, and also for the fact that it usually doesn’t require you to type a lot.
(Social) Customer Care is Directly Proportional to Profits
A study by Bain found out that when companies engage and respond to customer service requests over twitter, those customers end up spending 20% to 40% more with that company.
Trends These Days
One of the things that makes corporate businesses so successful is that they follow each others’ ideas. That’s what happened with social customer care. When some companies started gaining more business, everyone else started to join in.
Now it is time for us to follow these ideas. Not only because we can do it, but because we can do it better than those corporate businesses.
Corporate businesses try to humanize their businesses through this method, but we are humans! we freelancers and small-scale business owners usually have one brand, and that brand is often our own selves. This is why we have an advantage here.
Social Customer Care for Freelancers
Freelancers and designers with small businesses often make a mistake that makes it harder to retain customers, which is that we don’t provide excellent customer care.
As we discussed earlier, the difference between insanely successful freelancers and ordinarily successful freelancers is not the the quality of work or the quickness of work but it is their communication and customer care.
This is the reason we try to focus on techniques for communicating with our clients because our technical skills can get us a car, but combined with these additional skills of better communication and customer management, we can get a Ferrari.
So, let’s figure out how individuals like us can use twitter to gain customers, make sure to retain old customers and have a little fun along the way. Let’s begin.
How O2 Masterfully Uses Twitter for Customer Care
There are many companies that are providing excellent customer support via twitter but in my opinion, nobody does a better job than O2. And that’s why I’ll be sharing examples from their tweets. Let’s not waste any time and go straight to the point.
How to Snatch Customers from Competitors
Ms. Lytton tweeted @EE, an O2 competitor in the UK. In this example, O2 jumped in almost uninvited and surely have snatched a customer from @EE.
- Learning: what we learn is that if you follow your competitors, local designers and the twitter accounts where you may find unsatisfied customers, those are the place where you need to be.
Speed Does Matter
As we can see in the earlier example, Ms. Lytton was getting angry because @EE was taking too much time to respond.
This is a big problem, actually studies have found out that speed matters more than one would think. Forrester found out that 71% customers believe that valuing their customer’s time is the most important thing a company can do to provide good service.
- Learning: you can install tweetdeck or hootsuite or any of such professional twitter apps in your mobile device so that you can keep track of all tweets directed to you. This way, you’ll be able to reply quickly without spending too much time or without any hassle.
Speak Your User’s Language
I often credit my success to this trait of mine. I try to speak non-techie language that the layman can understand. This helps my students and clients to stay on the same page with me and makes the whole experience a pleasant one for both of us. But, O2 goes a few steps ahead of me.
- Learning: when you are providing customer support, your job is not to sound professional, your job is to solve the problem. Speak the language that solves the problem quickly. And if you can do it in a fun way, that’s great.
Handle the Unsatisfied with a Sad Puppy Face
Every now and then you will find an unsatisfied customer, how will you treat them? Your first idea must be to solve the issue that making the customer leave you… but if you can’t do that, emotional blackmail is a good choice.
- Learning: everything’s fair in love and freelance
Be a Friend
One of the things that makes your twitter account look more human is that how often do you become their friend. You are not supposed to be an answering robot only, you need to be their friend. Even if the person on the other side does not really requires customer support, he/she might just be looking for a friend. Be their friend.
- Learning: be their friend. People do business with their friends first.
The good thing about internet is that people can say whatever they want… bad thing is that everyone does. Often, they can be extremely rude. In such a situation, you must stay cool and smile off all the hatred.
- Learning: a cool head is the enemy’s worst enemy.
As you can see, people have started to really like O2. Respect even the offensive tweets and you will get respect. O2’s twitter administrator himself/herself revealed this secret.
So, what did O2 gain from all this?
Well, people love it.
What makes a business popular? If the public loves it, it will obviously make a lot of profits, and receive a lot of wishes. But there’s one more thing that I forgot to discuss earlier. There’s a fundamental difference between social customer service and conventional customer support.
The Fundamental Difference in Social Customer Care
The thing that makes social customer care entirely different is that in here, your data is public. Anything you tweet will stay alive for years, it will be seen by many of your followers, potential customers, competitors, even the FBI.
So whatever you write, you write not only for the person you are replying to, you write for everyone else who is watching your wall or who will watch it in the years to come. This is where customer care turns into a marketing tool.
As seen in the O2 examples above, you can notice how they have creatively used their customer support to gain new customers. They are not the most affordable company in the market but they did gain huge profits and publicity thanks to their twitter account. YOU CAN DO THE SAME!
We freelancers and small business owners need free publicity and we have an image of not providing reliable customer care. Social customer support solves both these problems.
7 Things to Remember
And now, as I leave you, here’s checklist to remember when you write your tweets and replies to provide customer support.
- Your tweet will be read by everyone, from competitors to potential customers. Make sure it’s fitting.
- Always, always reply even if it’s stupid and pointless. It makes everyone see that you are listening and you are their friend.
- Try to be humorous but not funny. You are not a comedian. Professionalism needs to stay intact.
- Speak a language that anyone can understand. Analogies, anecdotes help a lot.
- There will always be haters, kill them with respect and smile. Sometimes, all they are looking for is a little care.
- Find potential customers, reach out to them. You’ll have unlimited supply of the clients.
- Spy on your competitors and learn how they are providing this support.
I have decided to follow these guidelines in my career. Let’s do it together. I’ll be sharing my experiences right here on Designzzz, and I can’t wait to listen to your experiences.
Thank you for staying with me, see tomorrow.